Questions and Answers
When a child struggles with reading, the whole family struggles. Check out these helpful ideas to common reading troubles, and make reading a fun activity for your child.
Click below for tips for parents:
Can you recommend summer camps especially for kids with special needs?
As a non-profit organization, we can not recommend specific camps. We can, however, provide you with articles that will give you the information you need. It is important to be a careful consumer when looking for a program for a child with special needs. Check out each camp carefully. Visit the site and talk with previous clients if possible.
What can I do now to make sure that my two year old will learn how to read?
Reading books should be a fun and enjoyable activity for both of you. Most importantly, by giving your child positive experiences with books, you are instilling in him a genuine, lifelong passion for reading and learninga priceless gift!
I am considering moving to a different state. Can my child, with an active IEP, transfer into another program? Who do I need contact to make this transition?
It is important to plan the move far enough in advance to make sure your childs current IEP is clear and specific before you go.
My daughter just started preschool and I have noticed that sometimes she writes letters backwards. Should I be concerned?
Writing letters backwards is a normal part of developing writing skills in preschool. If you have other reasons to suspect dyslexia (like parents or relatives with dyslexia, or problems identifying sounds or learning to say the alphabet), you should continue to monitor her progress and document your observations in case you see signs of a bigger problem.
Keep practicing with her by doing fun writing activities at home, like writing a shopping list, or writing a letter to a relative. Most of her early mistakes will be part of the process of learning to write, so model the right way, but don't hold her to it too early! She is in an experimentation phase with this skill.
If a child is reading aloud and is maintaining meaning, is it necessary that I correct every word he misreads?
The answer to this question depends on the context in which the child is reading. If he is reading in front of a group, or for pleasure, or for the purpose of appreciating literature, then you should NOT correct every mistake. During these activities, students are developing a love of reading, and as long as the meaning is preserved, they should be free to experience the "flow" of a good story.
In an instructional context, you may want to gently correct accuracy mistakes, but try to limit this to activities in which the main instructional goal is accuracy. You can build activities into your curriculum that focus on this specific skill.
Giving students the opportunity to read without the pressure of perfect accuracy will invite children to read more and that is how they will improve!
I would like to start teaching my 9-month old how to read, but he usually plays with books rather than reading them. How can I help him become a reader?
It is great that you want to help your child become a good reader! There are lots of ways to support these skills at every stage of his development.
At his age, he will probably not be holding books and noticing printed words. He is at a tactile stage, which means he will want to touch everything and explore his environment by putting objects in his mouth, throwing them, and otherwise conducting little experiments on his physical environment. This is normal and necessary for his development! (That's why board books are great for infants and toddlers.)
The way he will learn the proper way to use books is by watching you read and having early exposure to books. Keep reading with him, even if he doesn't really understand it, but don't force him to sit still or turn pages gracefully! He will begin to do this as he gets older.
My second grader is having a hard time focusing on one word at a time when reading. What can I do to help her?
Beginning readers need lots of practice reading it takes time, practice, time, and more practice! Work with your daughter's teacher to learn exactly at what level she is reading. Then, go to the library and load up on books written at that level AND below. Provide her with time each day to read, reread, and reread again those below reading level books. You'll want to build up her confidence and fluency with those books. Then, support her reading by reading WITH her the books at her instructional level. Prompt her to sound out words that can be sounded out (and just tell her the ones that can't or are too tricky). Praise her efforts and reread each book multiple times over the course of a week or two. Finally, get some terrific children's literature written ABOVE her reading level. Read those books to her to remind her WHY reading is so great. Model lots of good expression and let her hear what good, fluent reading sounds like.
Do everything you can to provide a fun climate for reading. If a book is too hard, put it away. Reinforce her efforts and continue to work closely with your school and teachers. If she continues to struggle, talk with them about additional testing and some one-on-one supervised tutoring.
My child is 18 months old and is not yet speaking, but understands commands and responds to directions. What can I do to help her develop her language skills?
Each child develops language at her own rate. Typically children say their first word around one year of age and then slowly acquire more words. Some children can say around 70 words at 18 months, however others take longer to get started. The key is that your child's receptive language, meaning what she understands, is not delayed. A typical child at 18 months can follow directions, point to a number of pictures in books, point to objects/people in their environment when asked, and point to several body parts.
Reading to your child makes the biggest difference in language development and future reading skills. Also, imitate and expand on your daughter's attempts to speak. If she says, "Uh-oh," you say, "Uh-oh, we spilled the milk!" If she still isn't talking by her second birthday, talk with your doctor and consider an evaluation by an early intervention specialist. This may ease your concerns if you continue to have them.
Also see the Reading Rockets section on developmental milestones for speaking and reading.
How can I help my son develop his reading comprehension abilities?
We have a lot of information on our site about teaching comprehension skills and how parents can help at home. The following links can help you get started on helping your son develop his skills.
If you have concerns, you may wish to discuss these with his teacher. The teacher may have strategies that work in the classroom that s/he can pass on to you. Together, you can determine the best course of action for helping your son.
My child is having trouble identifying sight words. What can I do to help?
There are many ways to help your child develop his reading skills. Sight words can be practiced using flashcards, which you can easily make at home using index cards. Use pictures, symbols and colors to help reinforce the word.
Adding fun activities like writing the words in shaving cream, in the sand, on a chalkboard, or using magnetic letters may be motivating for your young learner, and is a good way to help him feel the shape of the word.
Also, point to words in stories you are reading. Stop on a familiar sight word (like: the, that, this, and) so your child can fill in the word.
How can I help my son practice blending sounds as he reads?
You can do a lot to help your child practice. One way is to use modeling to introduce these skills. As you read to your child, sound out some of the words before you say them completely. Also, you can make a game to practice blending. Give your child a picture (e.g. a cat) and have him sound out the name while placing marbles, drawing marks, or tapping their fingers for each of the individual sounds in the word (e.g., /c/.../a/.../t/ is composed of 3 sounds, thus the child would use 3 marbles, marks, or taps.) You can also practice counting syllables by clapping or using your fingers to tap out the number of different sounds, or phonemes, in a word.
As your child continues to develop as a reader, the best thing you can do as a parent is to support him and give him many opportunities to practice.
What types of books should I have available for my young reader? Do you have any specific book recommendations?
To keep your child engaged with reading, you should keep a wide variety of books on hand, and make sure to include books on topics that interest him. In your book collection, keep books that your child currently enjoys so he can read them over and over again (repeat readings are great they help kids feel comfortable with the story and begin "reading" it along with you!). You should also add new books regularly, and make them a little more advanced than his current collection. He will let you know probably through a lack of interest when a book is too difficult. Picture books are good because they allow you to point out words and help him begin to recognize letters and their associated sounds. Pictures also give clues to the story for young children who are just grappling with languagelearning, but if he can follow the plot of a book without pictures, that's wonderful! The important thing is to go at his pace, but maintain a rich and varied literary environment.